The Shrinking 40% – What Does It Mean for Groups?
I recently came across a thought-provoking blog post by Tim Stevens entitled “The Shrinking 40%”. His thoughts are actually inspired by something Alan Hirsch discusses in his book The Forgotten Ways. These thoughts impact the way we look at ‘doing church’ as well as our strategy for small groups. The premise is that, according to research, the way almost every church in North America goes about its business is (at best) effectively reaching 40% of the people in our community. And that number is shrinking.
For a long time church ‘experts’ and practitioners have debated whether a church should be ‘attractional’ (putting on big programs and services intended to ‘attract’ the community) or ‘missional’ (going into the community to reach them where they’re at). Unfortunately, much of the debate has been done on an ‘either/or’ platform. I agree with Tim when he says, “Its not either/or. Its finding the genius of the AND.”
We should not ignore the 40% of our community that the “come and see” strategy is reaching, even if that number is shrinking. However, we cannot be satisfied with our efforts when a growing 60% of the people around us will never be reached unless we “go and tell”. Let’s do every event and service at our building with excellence and intentionality, but let’s also be innovative when it comes to strategies outside our walls.
That’s where our Groups come in. A small group has a unique opportunity to reach into the growing 60% in ways that ‘big church’ never will. The home environment, relational elements, and portability of a small group make it an ideal vehicle for efforts outside these walls.
So, brainstorm with me for a moment…what can we do to use our groups to reach the 60%? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear what’s on your heart.